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Unformatted text preview: f the law, its value and its purpose. Broadly speaking, 'illah refers to the rationale of an injunction, and in this sense, it is synonymous with hikmah, that is, the purpose and the objective of the law. But there is a difference between 'illah and hikmah which I shall discuss in a subsequent chapter on analogical deduction (qiyas). There is another Arabic word, namely sabab, which is synonymous with 'illah, and the two are often used interchangeably. Yet the ulema of usul tend to use sabab in reference to devotional matters (ibadat) but Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 40 use 'illah in all other contexts. Thus it is said that the arrival of Ramadan is the cause (sabab) of fasting but that intoxication is the 'illah of the prohibition in wine-drinking. [Cf. Ahmad Hasan, 'Rationality', p. 101.] The authority of the Quran as the principal source of the Shariah is basically independent of ratiocination. The believers are supposed to accept its rulings regardless of whether they can be rationally explained. Having said this, however, there are instances where the Quran justifies its rulings with a reference to the benefits that accrue from them, or the objectives which they may serve. Such explanations are often designed to make the Quran easier to understand. To give an example in the context of encounters between members of the opposite sex, the believers are enjoined in sura al-Nur (24:30) 'to avert their glances and to guard their private parts'. The text then goes on to provide that in doing so they will attain greater chastity of character and conduct. To give another example, in sura alHashr (59:7) the Qur'an regulates the distribution of booty among the needy, the orphans and the wayfarers 'so that wealth does not merely circulate among the wealthy'. In the first ayah, averting the glance is justified as it obstructs the means to promiscuity and zina. The ruling in the second ayah is justified as it prevents the accumulation of wealth in a few hands. Whereas the foregoing are instances in which the text explicitly states the 'illah of the injunctions concerned, on numerous other occasions the jurists have identified the 'illah through reasoning and ijtihad. The identification of 'illah in many of the following for example, is based on speculative reasoning on which the ulema are not unanimous: that arrival of the specified time is the cause (sabab or 'illah) of the prayer, that the month of Ramadan is the cause fasting, that the existence of the Ka'bah is the cause of hajj; that owning property is the cause of zakat, that theft is the cause of amputation of the hand, that traveling is the cause of shortening the prayer and that intentional killing is the cause of retaliation. These and other similar conclusions with regard to the assignment of 'illah have been drawn in the light of supportive evidence in the Quran and Sunnah, but even so many of them are disputed by the ulema. These examples will in the meantime serve to show the difference between the literal/logical meaning of "illah' a...
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